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Program Philosophy

Participants in the 2017 ChemEx2 Program Photo Credit: Ben Lin

Partnering with teachers and students to ignite curiosity and meet educational needs

Stanford Chemistry Department members have worked hand-in-hand with local high school teachers to build and develop educational programs and lab exercises that engage students while also fulfilling curricular needs and meeting state requirements. Our ready-to-go lab exercises help teachers find time to include labs and still cover all of their essential class content.

Our programs also aim to inspire future scientists, with opportunities to explore chemistry and scientific careers with young scientists – undergraduate and graduate students in chemistry who can show them the path forward and answer questions.

Our Programs

Inspiring Future Scientists through Shadowing (IFSS)

Hosted annually by the chemistry department at Stanford University, the IFSS program allows rising juniors and seniors in high school to experience cutting-edge chemical research while shadowing a graduate student mentor as they work in the laboratory.


In the ChemEx2 Program, local high school teachers work with a set of chemistry experiences and experiments –designed and vetted by the Stanford Department of Chemistry in conjunction with high school chemistry teachers and science educators – to foster student learning and expand high-leverage, core teaching practices in chemistry. Participants develop a plan for their own classrooms that address the science learning goals in the NGSS and Common Core State Standards. Follow-up days during the academic year provide additional support.

School Visits

Schedule a visit for your local Bay Area high school or K–5 students to learn about chemistry research and the career steps to becoming a scientist, with a small outreach group from the Stanford Chemistry Department. Presentations may be scheduled both on- and off-campus. Each presentation features the projects of a current Ph.D. student in chemistry or chemical engineering, with demonstrations that illustrate some of the fundamental chemistry concepts at work within the research, followed by time for Q&A.

Meet Our Program Leaders!

Jennifer Schwartz-Poehlmann

Michael Fayer

Christopher Chidsey

Program History

The 2009 Outreach Team (from left): Gary Benz , Science Department Chair at American High School; Dave Heppner, Stanford Chemistry Ph.D. Student; Jennifer Schwartz Poehlmann, Stanford Chemistry Sr. Lecturer; Sarah Sherlock, Stanford Chemistry Ph.D. Student; Brian Smith, Stanford Chemistry Ph.D. Student; Hernan Sanchez, Stanford Chemistry Ph.D. Student; Lindsey Hanson, Stanford Chemistry Ph.D. Student

The first trial run of the Stanford Chemistry Outreach Program was introduced April 24th, 2009, with the aim to foster a greater interest and appreciation for chemistry among underrepresented minorities and women in high school.

The group provided a structured laboratory experience at American High School in Fremont. Working with Gary Benz, chair of the Science Department at American, we were able to design a laboratory experience to reinforce and complement the chemistry concepts that were currently being taught in the classroom, using creative and exciting teaching methodologies that help students relate the lab material to the ‘real world’ around them. For example, the Fremont High School lab discussed why insoluble metals are toxic by guiding students to make a bright yellow lead precipitate formerly used in making paints. The students then dissolved this precipitate by titrating with water, allowing them to observe a reversible reaction and gain a better understanding of solubility and equilibrium reactions.

This first outreach laboratory was a very positive experience for everyone involved. The graduate students jumped at the chance to get out and interact with younger students in the community. The high school students seemed to really enjoy the opportunity to talk with graduate students about science, and college in general, as well as run a cool experiment.

We know that in a high school setting, many laboratory experiences are not feasible given the time and setup logistics required, as well as the limited individual attention that one teacher can provide. In a classroom of ~30 students, it was clear in our April 2009 launch that the added instructors in the classroom enabled set-up of more involved experiments and greater individual attention - especially to those students who were struggling with key concepts. Even more importantly, though, this experience allowed all students the opportunity to interact with other young people who are truly passionate and excited about chemistry.

From our 2009 roots, this program has developed a set of 12 guided inquiry lab activities in which high school students work in small groups to get hands-on experience with key chemical concepts that are taught throughout the academic year. Stanford Chemistry Professor Michael Fayer and Senior Lecturer Jennifer Schwartz Poehlmann continue to spearhead the educational components of the program. Working with local high school teachers, we continue to strive to ensure that these laboratory experiences reinforce the California State Curriculum Standards. In these ready-to-go laboratories, everything can be brought to and taken back out of the school quickly. It is through these efforts that we hope to make a significant contribution to K–12 education, as well as to encourage more students to consider chemistry, or science in general, in their futures. Finally, this experience also provides a unique professional development opportunity for our graduate students who are interested in an academic career.

Gifts in Kind

Our program strives to pack in and out all supplies needed for the experiments that we run during out school visit, thus we are in particular need of nitrile or latex gloves and other chemical consumables. If you are interested in donating any materials, chemicals, or equipment to the program please contact Jennifer Schwartz Poehlmann for more information. Thank you for your consideration!

A Special "Thank You"

A special THANK YOU to the Baskin Family Foundation, Stanford Chemistry Department, and Fisher Scientific for contributing to the "Motivating Future Scientists Chemistry Outreach" program. Special thanks also to the Daughters of the American Revolution for a generous donation defraying the cost of transportation for outreach trips to/from the Stanford Campus. If your classroom or students require financial assistance to visit the Chemistry Department, please contact Jeffrey Babicz.